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Ealing Southall By-election

Who to vote for in this by-election

The Ealing Today forum is a lively and often thoughtful local discussion forum that is often contributed to by local councillors in Ealing.

Leon Markham kicked off a thread yesterday morning entitled “Who to vote for in this by-election”. I tend to stick to local issues on this blog and a few detailed issues that interest me. Here is my answer to a big question for a change:

By-elections do bring out the worst in political parties and I think that all three main parties have made mistakes over the last few weeks. The Labour party had the right to call the by-elections as it was their MPs who were incumbents so they have chosen the shortest possible timetable and thus helped to ensure a frenetic campaign. I suspect that we will all be glad when the avalanche of paper stops coming through the door on Thursday. I have had roughly 50 leaflets.

You have got three capable councillors in Northfield but being an MP is quite a different game and you have to hand it to Tony Lit that he has had the chutzpah to put himself forward for such a high profile campaign. If I had any ambitions to be an MP, I would not want to go through what he has gone through over the last three weeks. I don’t think that Tony Lit will bring great intellectual rigour to the Conservative party or strong policy ideas but he is someone with a good business brain who will ask awkward questions. The team needs a range of skills. Tony’s will be a useful addition to the mix.

For me the voting decision is simple. You have to go with the three main parties in spite of their failings. I am happy that the Greens are influential in our politics but they do not have a programme for government and are not a serious party in my view.

As an ex-(very)Young Liberal I have always had some sympathy with the SDP and the Liberal Democrats. Unfortunately, they often take positions that are unrealistic. Too often they think the state can fix things if only it is given enough cash. Wrong. We will never have a LibDem government. So for me it comes down to the choice we have had in British politics for the last 100 years. Labour or Conservative.

The modern Labour party is unrecognisable from that pre-1992 when John Major got the largest popular vote of any Prime Minister in history. A tribute to the Blair-Brown duopoly that has dominated British politics for 10 years. That project has had its day and the alternative is being created by David Cameron and a Tory party that is intent on change and intent on re-gaining power. Iain Duncan Smith’s Commission on Social Justice has shown that the new Conservative party will be as different from its predecessor as the new Labour party.

At some point in the next few years most British people will agree with this analysis and we will have a Conservative government. Ealing Southall is just a side show. A very entertaining one all the same. All we can do is send a signal. Do we believe in the Blair-Brown project or is it time for change?

Not only is it a duty to vote. It is a duty to choose too. Life is full of hard choices. Voting is one of them.